The Chess Variant Pages

Check out Hectochess, our featured variant for November, 2023.

Person Information

Fergus Duniho
User ID: fergus

Webmaster, Game Courier Inventor
Editor, Contributor, Game Inventor, Member

Last Logged on 2023-11-29 11:10:24.

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On Contacting Me

If you have content to contribute to this site, sending it directly to me is not your best option. I focus more on maintaining and programming the site than I do on editing and approving new contributions. See How to Design and Post Your Own Game for details on how to add your own content without asking me to do it for you. If a PHP script is buggy, or you need help programming Game Courier, I'm the one to ask, but it's best to do it in a comment, not through email.


Taking over from David Howe in 2015, I am the webmaster for the Chess Variant Pages. I now control the domain and pay for the web hosting. I have been with this site since 1999. When I first started, I helped with the editing and programmed various games for Zillions-of-Games. I then shifted my focus to working on Game Courier, which I created for playing Chess variants online. I have done a lot of programming on this over the years, as well as other programming. I programmed the menus that appear in the headers, the login system, the favorite games system, and the script for displaying email addresses as captchas, among other things. I have also invented several Chess variants, programming many of them for both Zillions-of-Games and Game Courier.

Statement of Purpose

Some people feel their interest in Chess variants arising from a dissatisfaction with Chess and a desire to reform it. That's not me. Chess is a great game. My perspective is that Chess is only the beginning, and my interest in Chess-like games doesn't stop with it. I'm not in search of the King of Chess variants. I'm interested in exploring the variety of possible Chess variants, of trying to figure out what strategies work best in different games, and of tinkering with rules and making something I can be proud of and happy to play. My keywords are tinkering, exploration, and building blocks. I like to play with rules and make things. While I'm not out to reform Chess, I do care about the quality of my games, and I have written on what makes a good Chess variant. Besides my Chess variants, I have also made Game Courier for playing Chess variants online.

Biographical Notes

My two main hobbies are computer programming and Chess variants. Both date back to the early 1980's, when as an adolescent at the public library I discovered the Apple ][ and John Gollon's book Chess Variations. My interest in programming continued strong, because I kept getting more powerful computers, while my interest in Chess variants went dormant due to a lack of software and human players. My interest in Chess variants rebloomed in 1998 when I began finding programs that play different Chess variants. I soon discovered this site, and not long after Zillions-of-Games came out. This allowed me to merge my interests in computer programming and Chess variants.

My involvement with this site began in 1999. Noticing that David Howe's email address was with my local phone company, I contacted him and asked if he was local. He was, and from then until I moved in 2002, we regularly met to play Chess variants together at a local cafe. These included our own games, games in design competitions, as well as Hostage Chess, Xiangqi, and Shogi. We even played Chess together once. The game we played most was Nightmare Chess. In 2001, in anticipation of moving away, I began working on PHP scripts to enable the playing of Chess variants online. Over time, this grew into Game Courier, which has become the best play-by-mail system for Chess variants on the web.

My Chess variants fall into two main periods. During my early period, my main tool was Zillions-of-Games, I routinely met David Howe to play Chess variants together, and I regularly entered design competitions. Some of my best games from this period include Grand Cavalier Chess, Clockwork Orange Chess, and Wormhole Chess. During my later period, I began programming games for Game Courier, played games mainly online, and eventually stopped bothering to enter design competitions. Some of my best games from this period include Kamikaze Mortal Shogi (created in online collaboration with Roberto Lavieri), Storm the Ivory Tower, and Eurasian Chess.

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